McMinnville officials were faced with their first emergency decision that could not wait two weeks to be placed on an agenda.
A delay could have cost the city $750,000 in street paving money from the state.
“This is not on the agenda,” said McMinnville Public Works director Bill Brock to members of Streets and Sanitation Committee. “I know you have self-imposed yourself on a two-week notice, but this is very important. Without the mayor’s signature on this, we could lose out on about $750,000.”
In mid-2011, city officials designated 51 streets for paving and borrowed up to $2 million for the project. It was the first paving project done by the city since 2000.
At that time, Brock informed officials that some of those roads might qualify for the state’s Surface Transportation Program (STP), which is money allocated to each city and county based on population.
Usually $50,000 to $60,000 is given to the city each year. Because paving stopped in 2000, the money has accrued to $600,000 in 2011. Today, it is approximately $750,000.
In 2011, the state informed the city that guidelines for using STP funds would change in 2013. Communities can no longer save the money, as the city had done. Instead, the money must be used in the year it is given.
There are guidelines for using the money. STP funds can only be used on “collector streets.” Collector streets are those that have high traffic volume and are not considered a state or federal route.
“Collector streets are main roads in a subdivision or a neighborhood,” said Public Works assistant director Brad Hennessee. “The street has to be classified higher than a local, neighborhood street. Right off hand, I can think of one example of a collector street and that’s Red Road.”
Red Road is used by emergency vehicles, as well as receiving a high volume of traffic from residents who use it to get from Sparta Street to the bypass.
Very few of the city’s street met the guidelines, which is why officials asked the state to reclassify some of the streets so they would qualify and the city could cash in on the funds before the guidelines changed in 2013.
According to Brock, someone at the state level dropped the ball on the 2011 paperwork and the streets were never re-classified.
“The guy who was supposed to handle this left his position,” Brock said. “As it turns out, he never did anything with it.”
The actual cut off for the city to apply for the funds was Oct. 1, 2012. Because the streets were never re-classified due to staff error, the city has been given a chance to still get the $750,000, provided the paperwork is received by the state immediately.
Streets and Sanitation Committee chairman Rick Barnes asked if any member of the board in attendance had any problems with the committee making this emergency decision without a two-week notice.
No objection was made. The measure was approved by Barnes, as well as Aldermen Billy Wood and Jimmy Bonner. Because the action ratified a passed action of the Board of Mayor and Aldermen, the measure will not be sent to the full board for its consideration.